Thursday, November 15, 2007

Dove Valley Vineyard Debuts

Thanksgiving Marks Dove Valley Winery's Debut
By Jennifer O’Keefe

The week of Thanksgiving, one of the Maryland Wineries Association’s newest vineyards, Dove Valley, will host its grand opening in Rising Sun.

Nine years ago Harry Hepbron discovered wild grape vines, nearby a farm he had recently purchased. He turned to his wife and children and said “I bet you that soil is great for grapes.” Sure enough, Hepbron found out he was right after having the soil tested.

After Hepbron realized he wanted to cultivate a vineyard, he interest was to educate his own family including his wife, three sons, daughter and grandchildren. “This has become very hands on,” his daughter Janel Griffith said, “We are learning everyday, as a family, how to maintain, harvest and make wine.” Although he grew up on a farm and has a background in agriculture, Hepbron attended a wine school in New Jersey to gain a better understanding of how to open and run a vineyard and winery.

For eight years now, grapes have been planted in the ground. Fortunately enough, a couple of years ago, Dove Valley was able to sell their grapes to other Maryland Wineries. “By selling our harvest, we are able to gain some profit to put back into planting and growing,” Griffith said. After years of growing and preserving the land, Dove Valley wine is ready to be sold.

“We are excited to be the first licensed winery in Cecil County,” Griffith said. The winery has eight different varieties of wine, including Cabernet Franc, Vignoles, Rose, and two Dove Valley blends. The family hopes their wine will spark the interest of the local people, farmers, and tourism too.

The wine is made and kept in the air tight, temperature controlled basement. “On one side, there is a heated room for the fermentation process and on the other side is where the wine and kegs are kept cool at about 60 to 64 degrees,” Griffith said. The winery itself is a log cabin to fit the architecture of the other homes on the farm. The wine tasting room and porch will be where visitors are welcome to drink their wine, they can enjoy the beautiful setting of the vineyard and valley. Without a doubt, there will be walking tours throughout the land to see the grapes, vines and the processes of growing and winemaking.

The name for the winery Dove Valley derived from all the birds, especially doves, to be found nesting in the vines. “Out in the vineyard in the early spring, I saw a bird come fluttering out of the branches and realized there are doves all over the vineyard,” Griffith said. She brought the notion of the name to her father and it was deemed so appropriate for the vineyard and winery.

“The toughest step of the process has been getting our labels approved,” Griffith adds, “now, we are waiting on them to be printed.” Once the bottles are branded by Dove Valley, the vineyard will be nearly ready to open in just a couple of weeks. “Everyday is an experience for us here and our family is really looking forward to the opening,” Griffith said.

Dove Valley Vineyard & Winery
645 Harrington Road
Rising Sun, MD 21911


Opening in December. Please call before visiting.

For more information on Dove Valley and Maryland wine, please log onto